How a search into our memories bring out imagination, and more benefits to our lives today than we may realize
I was doing some research on the web when I found an article about a mid-90s band Pulp that caught my interest for a completely different reason to what ended becoming this article instead.
I didn’t think reading such an innocent nostalgia-tracking article (that was about Pulps relevance to then and now considering the same cultural issues, just in a different form), would see me feel so emotionally wrecked for an hour or two afterwards.
It exhausted me (possibly the 3am time also had its part). It led me to just pull away afterwards and have a complete rethink, to analyze my life, to almost make me cry.
The article itself was nothing particularly moving, and Pulp was a band I liked but certainly didn’t follow like some others at the time being an impressionable early teen in the UK around that era. I’d watched Stranger Things and that didn’t have the same impact either, despite a heavy flow of nostalgia to 80’s children.
I guess we can all look back on a time that pretty much defines our music tastes. We would laugh at our Dad who was still into his Rolling Stones or Pink Floyd, not because they weren’t good bands, they were great (the Rolling Stones still are somehow that defies human logic), but because it would be the typical ‘lost in time’ remarks about how music today is nothing compared to in his day (he may have a point though).
I found myself getting into Oasis and Manic Street Preachers, which sewed the seed to later find RHCP, King of Leon, The Black Keys, Muse and Kasabian amongst others, and I guess Pulp is part of that era which brings back certain memories.
This simple article planted a seed down memory lane and the memories were back to a time where life was so very different, and yet still the same in other ways. I could easily relate to the child that was then me, almost more so than the adult today.
It was very powerful. I was suddenly ‘lost in time’ too and wondered how on earth things went from there to where I am today, to all the ups and downs, and the different people I’ve met, the countless opportunities in hindsight either lost or taken.
It made me think of the things in life I’d accomplished and made me worry about the things in life I still haven’t.
It put a mental time lapse in place and sped it up to see that during that time a lot has changed, but how much of what changed was by choice or by design?
As I went deeper into the memories some really hit hard. How did I lose touch with such a good friend as we just drifted as I lived for years on the other side of the world? Why don’t those good memories stay as strong as the bad ones? Even while accomplishing things in life, at the time it could’ve felt like it was just a struggle towards the finish line instead of a merited and embraced journey along the way.
If only we could go back in time and tell ourselves that. Then it hit me. We can, and this is exactly how.
I wasn’t trying to force myself to think of all of those things before finding the Pulp article, yet some association happened from reading that article which led to a past memory, and from it then brought out a whole host of different memories and feelings I didn’t know I had.
This taught me two things. We should look back on what we’ve accomplished and lived in life more and both be grateful for it and to praise and reward ourselves for doing something over that time that our 10 year younger self wouldn’t have known how to do. We have to acknowledge our achievements more.
We should also be less hard on ourselves when trying new things as we seem to expect to be master skaters before we even learn to walk on ice. Of course we will fall down , but yet these failures are just learning in disguise and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up ever for trying, not trying is far worse. We seem to remember the past struggles easier than past successes as our brains are wired for survival and protection more so than growth, so we tend to remember the times we fell over, embarrassed ourselves in front of someone we had a crush on, or when we didn’t fit into a group, yet quickly forget the many wonderful things we may have done in life, such as opened that door for that old lady, won over our crush, found a better group that fit in more with our core values, or when we won that trophy for a sport we’ve since quit.
It’s like gaining a good score in a test. We might’ve done so at one time, or many times, yet as soon as one is over we are straight onto worrying about the next. It’s fine to be determined but not if it’s leading us to not enjoy the journey of get ‘there’. (Where is ‘there’ anyway? And why are we in such a rush towards this mountain top?).
The other thing it taught me (or should I say, provoked a question in me), was just ‘why we don’t head on these trips down memory lane more often?’.
As well as being an interesting insight into our life journey and accomplishments, we can actively use it to teach our younger self in a kind of ‘back-to-future’ way. i.e. we can go back to the memory of a time and tell ourselves something different we know about the world and ourselves now, and then visualise and play through the scenario of what we would’ve done differently.
Take a childhood dream we had. What if we knew what we do now about the world and could guide that child towards it easier. Would the child do it? Or more to the point, would you do it, as you still are that child only years later after more experiences. The point here is that looking deeper into our past memories can be a source of tremendous wisdom in helping us with our choices in life today.
We might still have situations, different situations, which we don’t know how to handle, or seem to be chasing life still to a destination without embracing the journey, so think back to that child and the advice you would give them about enjoying that journey in the moment more, and give yourself the same advice now. We might just procrastinate less too as we can remember just how fast that time we had then passed by.
A DEEPER SEARCH FOR IDEAS
When we head back down memory lane we don’t just see things differently, we can also learn to uncover a huge source of ideas too. We may visualise what we want in life from today, or for what we intend to do in life, but we rarely visualise from our memories, yet these memories can be some of the biggest blocks and insight into what we really want in life.
We quickly forget things we’ve just done as our mind is set on ‘what next?’ so we may not see our memories as a source of wisdom, we often think wisdom is about just learning more, rather than going over what we already know, as strange as that may sound.
The irony is to be forward-thinking we have to look back more to understand what we really want.
When delving backwards instead of forwards, there’s a trance-like quality (like day-dreaming) that occurs where we are effectively ‘lost in time’. Here we can either go forward with it, or rewrite our history and reminisce on previous thoughts and ideas and compare notes on how they led us to where we are.
Day-dreaming tends to put our minds into a creative trance but one which lacks focus in the now, a ‘memory-search’ can bring up a trance like image to our minds (with a feeling often associated with it) that can help us delve deeper into our memory bank of lessons learnt and experiences. It’s not just a picture image of what we did at the time that comes up, it also takes us back there so we can delve into the thoughts and ideas we had at the time.
In a sense we are taking a fly on the wall approach to our own brains development and journey, and through doing so we get to reshape it again today.
We might think that when we look back on things we compare it to the now, and associate the now as where we ‘ended up’, yet that might be too restrictive on where we want to go next.
Instead, we could look at ourselves, our past selves, and just realign our current journey and direction with it. So, in some ways, the kid who had those dreams that didn’t materialize (as the younger self was far too dependent and inexperienced to know how to make them happen) can now let them flourish with a wiser self helping out this time.
Of course, there might be completely different goals now to what the kid inside wanted to be, but if we are honest the kid inside is still very much there within us, and these nostalgic searches prove it.
The more we are able to pick out nostalgic memories the more we can analyze our journey from those points. We can go with the memory and see where it went, which unlocks more memories.
We then couple that with the experience and knowledge we have today and our imagination that was ‘lost in time’ can resurface again today in real time and we find that the child within has many more ideas up his/her sleeve that can help us bring out our often dormant adult imagination.
We often are aware at just hoe much more imaginative we were as children, yet we seem to think those ideas and fluid mind are lost by the time logical order takes over in adulthood. This is a good way of bringing the child-within back out.
THE ADDED BENEFIT
This is also a much more positive use of delving into our past memories rather than poisoning the present with guilt, resentment or regret. When people have counseling they often take a trip down memory lane to help them uncover some hidden fears or issues, so it can often be seen as a quite negative or daunting experience to look back, so we tend to associate benefit more through looking forward, but if we can use past memories to channel and process old experiences into new ideas and hope then it can be a very useful practice from time to time.